Over at Stuff Christians Like, Jon is talking about choirs.
Which puts me in mind of a choir Cath and I encountered in Georgia.
We were visiting my brother, Luke (pre-USMC days). He was interning with the Pastor of three (or was it four) rural churches.
Sarah (Say-ruh, as the congregants would say) stayed home that Sunday, feeling under the weather. But Cath and I showed up to support baby bro.
Now, I find visiting churches to always be awkward affairs.
There’s always the fear that of making the faux pas – singing the verse designated by tradition as “women only,” or kneeling when everyone else stands, or going for the hug during the passing of the peace when by “peace” they mean “manly handshake.”
So the game plan for my lovely wife and I was to hang out in the back, mix in with the crowd, and be invisible.
That was the plan. Blend in. Be invisible.
When we first stepped into the sanctuary (“sanctuary” – isn’t that supposed to mean “safe refuge?”), our invisibility cloaks failed as we were called out by the eighty-year old greeter.
Not so odd, as most churches have greeters, and they are usually older. Where do you think they train for Wal-Mart?
But usually the greeter is at the door.
Here the greeter was at the front of the church. We were at the door in the back.
And the conversation reverberated in between, bouncing off the two or three other people that were there.
“WELL, HOWDY Y’ALL!”
“Y’ALL MUST BE LUKE’S FAMILY. WELCOME!”
“Oh, she’s not feeling well.”
“BLESS HER HEART, POOR THING.”
Fortunately we were interrupted by another congregant entering behind us.
Did I say fortunately? I need to get me a dictionary.
This lady had about ten years on the greeter, which manifested itself in greater hearing loss.
“Well, hello, and who do we have here?”
“THAT’S LUKE’S FAMILY.”
The greeter apparently felt it part of her duties to introduce us.
She didn’t feel it part of her duties to move any closer to us or the door.
I think maybe she was guarding her favorite pew spot.
“LUKE! LUKE! LAAA-UUUUKE!”
“THIS ISN’T LUKE!”
“Hi, I’m Luke’s brother.”
“WELL WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY SO?”
I didn’t answer, as the question wasn’t addressed to me.
“I DID. TURN UP YOUR HEARING AID!”
Again, not addressed to me.
“SHE’S NOT FEELING WELL.”
“NOT FEELING WELL? BLESS HER HEART. IS SHE HURLING?
“I DON’T KNOW. IS SHE HURLING?”
That was addressed to me. What’s the protocol for discussing the internal going’s on of one’s sister-in-law-intern-patstor’s-wife?
“MAYBE IT’S COMING OUT THE OTHER SIDE. ASK IF IT’S THE OTHER SIDE.”
Mind you, the woman asking the greeter if it’s “the other side” is standing next to me.
And that the greeter who is about to ask me if it’s “the other side” is standing on the farther end of the sanctuary.
And that sanctuary does not in any way connote “safe refuge.”
“BLESS HER HEART. IS IT THE OTHER SIDE?”
The only positive I could think of that kept me from feeling total humiliation was that only a dozen people were in the church at the time; so at least this conversation wasn’t broadcast to the entire congregation.
That was before I learned that the entire congregation totaled – you guessed it – a dozen people.
To be continued…
Just my thoughts,